The Gulf Arab States Versus Hezbollah
In recent weeks, Lebanon has become a brighter flashpoint in the intensifying geopolitical rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Since the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and subsequently the League of Arab States, designated Hezbollah a “terrorist” organization earlier this month, GCC authorities have announced plans to deport thousands of Lebanese living in the Gulf, three Kuwaitis were found killed in Lebanon, and a United Arab Emirates (UAE) court case began involving seven people charged with Hezbollah links.
Although Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had previously classified Hezbollah a terrorist organization, Kuwait, Qatar, and the Sultanate of Oman have now backed the GCC and Arab League’s designation. This followed Saudi Arabia’s “comprehensive review” of its relations with Lebanon last month, and Riyadh’s decision to suspend and cancel approximately $4 billion in annual aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces and police, accused of being heavily infiltrated by Hezbollah. Several days later Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE joined Riyadh in imposing travel restrictions on Lebanon, which has potentially serious economic implications given that Gulf Arab tourists are known to be big spenders in the Mediterranean country.